How Video, Automation, and Corporate Citizenship Will Change Social Media in 2018

Over the past decade, the leading social networks have built, shifted, and polished their platforms, striving always to become the perfect engagement tools for marketers. With nearly 3 billion social media users around the world, it’s safe to say the goal for many networks moving forward will be about how to keep those users engaged as long as possible.

The platform changes that drive and define social media marketing won't slow down in 2018. In fact, I predict that innovation will necessitate change for major brands in how they care for customers, how they present stories, and how they share their points of view on issues of social importance. My three predictions below highlight how these new innovations will change the way marketers work in 2018.

Prediction #1: Bot and Human Interaction Will Make Adoption Tricky

One promising strategy companies will use to care for customers in 2018 is the introduction of bots to the customer journey. Stitch Fix, the subscription styling service, has been experimenting with Facebook Messenger stylist bots that guide customers through the process of picking items to be included in their next delivery. Taco Bell has created TacoBot, a bot for Slack that lets users make orders and schedule a pickup directly in chat.

Social provides the unique opportunity for brands to build relationships through one-to-one conversations with their consumers—but what happens when those conversations are led by bots? As automation becomes more customer-facing in 2018, marketers will create situations and challenges we’ve never seen before. How will we manage bots that exist alongside marketers, doing the same job? What happens when two bots engage on the same issue?

Brands are embracing bots to lighten the load on their customer service teams, and “automate the easy stuff.” The answer lies in discovering the perfect mix of man and machine. Companies will have to prioritize the humanization of their automation to compete in 2018.

The answer about automation for brands lies in the perfect mix of man and machine. — Rod Favaron

 

Prediction #2: Video Content Will Be Created With A Social First Mentality

Back in 2014, Spredfast won an Emmy for innovation in improving engagement around TV with social media. With our technology, a Twitter user watching a Major League Baseball game could tweet about the game in real-time and see her post live on TV in front of millions. Fast forward to 2018, and I predict that trend will flip. We’re already beginning to see TV-style programming built specifically for social, shifting the focus from social on TV to TV on social.

At Smart Social Summit this year, Facebook’s Head of Consumer Media Kristine Segrist, presented the three ways Facebook categorizes video:

  • On-the-go: This is quick video content meant to be viewed in a short timeframe, like while waiting for the bus or on an elevator.
  • Lean-in: This is longer form video content meant to be viewed when you have a bit more time on your hands, like during a lunch break.
  • Lean-back: This is 20- to 40-minute video content meant to challenge the longform shows we currently watch on Netflix or Hulu.

Facebook is placing bets on video through Watch, a new platform for original programming on the network. Shows like Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor,” which is currently at 30 million views, are creating new advertising opportunities for brands. Twitter is also jumping into video with 16 new live shows including live streaming sports and talk shows like Buzzfeed’s “AM to DM,” a show averaging 1 million viewers a day. According to data from eMarketer, Americans already spend more than 73 minutes a day watching digital video. Designing video content specifically for social will increase the amount watched even higher, creating more opportunity for marketers. In 2018, I believe companies will stop trying to force fit their content into social, and will start designing and producing content, with a social-first mentality.

Prediction #3: Companies Will Take Stands on Important Issues

Today’s consumer expects businesses to lead change in society. A recent Forbes article found that 73% of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if they know it comes from a sustainable brand, and 81% of them expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate values. The proliferation of people across social media has expanded this expectation to a global scale.

Social media gives businesses, public figures, and organizations unprecedented opportunity to reach diverse audiences. At our fall Smart Social Summit, Former First Lady Michelle Obama emphasized that businesses have a responsibility to speak up for their principles and take a stand in pivotal moments. She said that when businesses have the opportunity to join public discourse, they have a moral obligation to use that voice for good.

When businesses have the opportunity to join public discourse, they have a moral obligation to use that voice for good.

 

I believe that making a strong statement lets your customers—and employees—know directly where you stand. Consumers don’t just want to hear your voice on a societal issue, they expect it. 2018 will be full of news stories and issues that align or clash with company values, and I predict even more companies will find themselves motivated to take stands throughout the year.

2017 was full of milestone for the social media industry. Facebook reached 2 billion users, Snapchat went public, and even Twitter expanded tweets to 280 characters to draw more users. I predict 2018 will be full of innovations that use those stats as jumping off points to drive engagement further for users, marketers, and creators alike.

If you’re looking for even more insights, we’ve collected 11 predictions for this next year from Spredfast's brightest customers. Check it out to see what they think about the future of the networks, where the digital and physical worlds will collide, and how AI will fit into it all.

Download the tipsheet here.

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Rod has served as President and CEO of Spredfast for the past six years, leading overall company operations and long-term strategic direction alike. Under Rod’s direction, the Spredfast team of over 500 employees helps more than 650 of the world’s largest brands connect to the people they care about most.